Radical Enlightenment  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 is a treatise on radical enlightenment thinking by Jonathan Israel who offers a novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to Julien Offray de La Mettrie and Denis Diderot, two of its key exponents.

Particular emphasis is placed on the pivotal role of Baruch Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozism.

On Spinoza:

"No historian has tracked Spinoza’s influence so thoroughly as does Israel, who identifies its impact in British deism, on Vico’s historicism, and French materialism as well as its more obvious influence in Germany during the 1780s." -- Ann Talbot

From the publisher:

In the wake of the Scientific Revolution, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the complete demolition of traditional structures of authority, scientific thought, and belief by the new philosophy and the philosophers, including Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. The Radical Enlightenment played a part in this revolutionary process, which effectively overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power, as well as man's dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery. Despite the present day interest in the revolutions of the eighteenth century, the origins and rise of the Radical Enlightenment have received limited scholarly attention. The greatest obstacle to the movement finding its proper place in modern historical writing is its international scope: the Racial Enlightenment was not French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, but all of these at the same time.

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